What are these NYC buildings?

Spent the weekend in The City, revisiting several old haunts and finding new ones. In my travels, I once again passed by a building that gives me the creeps. At Church and Worth (a few blocks north of the WTC) stands an imposing, windowless, monochromatic monolith, architecturally void save several ominous dark intakes. No signs that I could see (though I stayed my distance) though there were several security cameras mounted behind the razor wire topped fence.

Is the building filled with hapless victims of Guliani’s anti-jaywalking campaign, is it the headquarters of the Illuminati, or is there some nameless evil that lurks trapped within the daunting edifice? Or is it merely a mundane housing for some nondescript city service.

There is also a building on Amsterdam at about 110[sup]th[/sup] street (I didn’t head there recently, so I don’t know the exact address). It is a bit more aesthetically pleasing, though just as nondescript and just as imposing. Large silver clad doors close in a building with very few identifying marks and no windows. I think (though it has been some years since I’ve been up close to it) that it belongs to the fire service. But why no windows? And why have I never seen/ heard of fire trucks going in or out? What’s happening in there?!


OK, WAGging here…I know the building you’re talking about, and I actually meant to post a message about it here, but forgot about it.

Judging by the NYNEX/Verizon trucks I saw parked inside the fence, I suspect it’s a central telephone switching station. Picture floor after floor of Lucent machinery…

frog’s got it right – it’s phone switching equipment. I believe it’s called the Longline Building – for obvious reasons – but don’t quote me (that is, until I can verify it).

Hold on a sec. While I’ll stand by earlier post (which back-pats frog’s post) there is another possibility.

The Church St. building could be a PATH tube ventilation shaft. These shafts, which exist in assorted spots all over the city feed the subway, PATH and auto tunnels with fresh air. The best way to see one in all its glory is to chech out the one on the westside, standing alone in the Hudson River near Canal St.

Subtler ones are built into the street landscape, near the endpoints of major underwater tunnels. There is one in downtown Brooklyn that is purposely decorated with “windows” and a “doorway” to make it look like the townhouses that flank it; most others are just nondescript brick boxes with lots of vent slats.

What a cover up! The fact of the matter is, that building at Church and Worth is the headquarters of the Men in Black.

Rhythmdvl (love the name - a Mickey Hart reference, no doubt) My Manhattan Block By Block (a wonderful little reference book) says “AT&T Longlines” so frog & stuy have it right. The SE corner of 110th & Amsterdam is marked “Con Edison”.

The structure on the Hudson near Canal Street is actually a ventilation shaft for the Holland Tunnel. If you look across the water you can see its twin near where the tunnel comes out in Jersey City. I passed that building over and over again wondering what it was, until I saw a commercial (or trailer) for a Stallone movie where he saves people trapped in the tunnel. There was a shot of the vent being blown up. It was a forehead slapping moment for me. All you have to do while looking at the vent is turn around and see that it’s right by Canal – where the tunnel lets out.

[Please forgive the snottiness of the following post, but because – as many of you know – I pride myself on my NYC expertise, I must defend my reputation ferociously whenever it is called into question in the slightest bit.]

Zot wrote:
“The structure on the Hudson near Canal Street is actually a ventilation shaft for the Holland Tunnel…”

Yes, Zot of course I know it’s for the Holland Tunnel.

I merely meant that if you wanted to see what a vent shaft looked like, that was the place to look. (Having reread my post I will admit that it could easily be interpretted to mean that I meant that the Hudson River tower is a PATH vent. But those of you who know me know I would never make such a goof.)

[Okay, now I feel entirely unclean for being such a snot. But it had to be done.]